UAW Members Approve John Deere Contract
With 61% supporting it, the deal ends the month long strike
After a month on strike, which included voting down two tentative agreements, UAW members who work at John Deere overwhelmingly voted to end their strike and accept the latest tentative agreement that was negotiated between the company and the union.
By a vote of 61% to 39%, the UAW members accepted a contract that will provide an $8,500 signing bonus, an immediate 10% wage increase, an additional 10% wage increase over the life of the 6-year contract, the return of the cost of living adjustments, three 3% lump sum payments, enhanced options for retirement, and enhanced CIPP performance bonuses. The agreement also ensures that the current no premium health coverage members have will be retained throughout the life of the contract.
One of the reasons why the UAW members voted down the first agreement and went on strike was to get a better deal on retirement and CIPP performance bonuses. They also rejected the second agreement due to the perceived vagueness of the revamped bonus structure. Both concerns appear to have been addressed in the latest agreement. In the latest tentative agreement, the incentive issue was settled with changes to the formula that would make it easier for workers to qualify for the incentive pay. They were also able to preserve a pension option for new hires, an increasing rarity in recent years.
“Our members courageous willingness to strike in order to attain a better standard of living and a more secure retirement resulted in a groundbreaking contract and sets a new standard for workers not only within the UAW but throughout the country,” said Chuck Browning, Vice President of the UAW and Director of the UAW Agricultural Implement department. “The sacrifice and solidarity displayed by our John Deere members combined with the determination of their negotiators made this accomplishment possible. They have started a movement for workers in this country by what was achieved here today and they have earned the admiration and respect of all that strive for what is just and equitable in the workplace.”
During the month that the John Deere workers were on strike, their action caught the attention of the nation. The 10,000 member strike was the largest strike in the country this year. It also became rough as the company took the union to court to try and limit their ability to picket outside of factories. One UAW member, Richard Rich, was also killed after crossing the street and getting hit by a car.
“UAW John Deere members did not just unite themselves, they seemed to unite the nation in a struggle for fairness in the workplace,” said UAW President Ray Curry. “We could not be more proud of these UAW members and their families.”
The decision to reject both tentative agreements was dangerous, but workers had confidence in their bargaining position, especially with a tight labor market making it hard for companies to hire replacement workers and Deere reporting huge profits. “It’s been good for us,” Tony Long, a worker in Ottumwa, Iowa, told NBC affiliate WHO of Des Moines. “I’m glad it worked out like this.”